focus

noun
fo·​cus | \ ˈfō-kəs How to pronounce focus (audio) \
plural foci\ ˈfō-​ˌsī How to pronounce foci (audio) also  -​ˌkī \ also focuses

Definition of focus

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a center of activity, attraction, or attention the focus of the meeting was drug abuse put immigration into focus as a hot topic for commentators
b : a point of concentration
2 : directed attention : emphasis The focus is on helping the homeless.
3a : direction sense 6c the team lost focus
b : a state or condition permitting clear perception or understanding tried to bring the issues into focus
c : adjustment for distinct vision also : the area that may be seen distinctly or resolved into a clear image
4a : a point at which rays (as of light, heat, or sound) converge or from which they diverge or appear to diverge specifically : the point where the geometrical lines or their prolongations conforming to the rays diverging from or converging toward another point intersect and give rise to an image after reflection by a mirror or refraction by a lens or optical system
b : a point of convergence (see convergence sense 1) of a beam of particles (such as electrons)
5 : one of the fixed points that with the corresponding directrix defines a conic section
6 : a localized area of disease or the chief site of a generalized disease or infection
7 : the place of origin of an earthquake or moonquake
in focus
: having or giving the proper sharpness of outline due to good focusing get the binoculars in focus
out of focus
: not in focus

focus

verb
focused also focussed; focusing also focussing

Definition of focus (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to cause to be concentrated focused their attention on the most urgent problems
2a : to adjust the focus of (the eye, a lens, etc.) focus the telescope
b : to bring into focus The results of that research were focused for classroom presentation.
3 : to bring (something, such as light rays) to a focus : concentrate

intransitive verb

1 : to concentrate attention or effort focus on the most pressing needs
2 : to adjust one's eye or a camera to a particular range Newborn babies cannot focus for several months.
3 : to come to a focus : converge

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Other Words from focus

Noun

focusless \ ˈfō-​kəs-​ləs How to pronounce focusless (audio) \ adjective

Verb

focusable \ ˈfō-​kə-​sə-​bəl How to pronounce focusable (audio) \ adjective
focuser noun

Did You Know?

The Latin word focus meant “hearth, fireplace.” In the scientific Latin of the 17th century, the word is used to refer to the point at which rays of light refracted by a lens converge. Because rays of sunlight when directed by a magnifying glass can produce enough heat to ignite paper, a word meaning “fireplace” is quite appropriate as a metaphor to describe their convergence point. From this sense of focus have arisen extended senses such as “center of activity.”

Examples of focus in a Sentence

Noun

He's successful, but he feels that his life lacks focus. His life lacks a focus.

Verb

She has an amazing ability to focus for hours at a time. I wasn't able to focus the camera. I wasn't able to get the camera to focus.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Users can stream songs and videos online for free or sign up for one of the platform's subscription plans, which are available globally with a focus on Sub-Saharan Africa. Billboard Staff, Billboard, "Linkfire Partners With Africa's Boomplay to Help Artists Optimize Marketing Efforts," 4 Sep. 2019 Beginning coding for adults will be offered from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Sept. 7, with a focus on HTML and CSS. Carol Kovach, cleveland.com, "Pearl of the Orient bows out of Rocky River restaurant scene: West Shore Chatter," 3 Sep. 2019 ProPublica has opened a new round of applications for its Local Reporting Network, with a focus on accountability projects involving state government or state politics. ProPublica, "ProPublica Wants Pitches for State Government Investigations. Apply for a Spot in Our Local Reporting Network.," 3 Sep. 2019 Sushi Shack is showing signs of finding its way after a tumultuous first year, with a focus on Korean food under a new Korean chef. Michael Mayo, sun-sentinel.com, "Review: Asian trio on Las Olas — Etaru, Red Door and Sushi Shack," 29 Aug. 2019 This course will center yoga and social justice with a focus on equipping more teachers of color with the tools to bring these yoga practices into their own communities. Ryan Walker-hartshorn, Bon Appétit, "Sinikiwe Dhliwayo Wants Everyone to Chill Out in Triangle Pose," 27 Aug. 2019 The lunch menu spans from light to decadent with a focus on high-quality ingredients, where everything is made from scratch. Trisha Boyer, USA TODAY, "The SoCal beach towns you shouldn't miss between Los Angeles and San Diego," 27 Aug. 2019 On Monday, Baldwin sat in an empty field, talking about the next stage of his life away from football and with a focus on philanthropy and helping others. chicagotribune.com, "Doug Baldwin moving his focus from football to philanthropy," 26 Aug. 2019 Equinox Hotels executive chairman Harvey Spevak has plans ahead for new retreat hotels with a focus on maintaining like-minded tribes. Erin Florio, Condé Nast Traveler, "Why Hotels in the U.S. Are Better Than Ever," 23 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

According to its website, Lassiter's firm, HealthTech, typically focuses on health care with its clients. Alfred Miller, ProPublica, "How Kentucky Gambled for Hundreds of Millions of Dollars From a Broadband Program It Didn’t Qualify for," 4 Sep. 2019 In a related heart-to-heart, Brittany’s brother-in-law Demetrius tries to snap Brittany out of focusing so much on her body. Sarah Todd, Quartzy, "Can you be body-positive and want to lose weight?," 4 Sep. 2019 This iteration will feature VOLTA Football, a series-first mode that offers a riff on the classic 11 vs. 11 gameplay in order to focus on smaller street games with fewer players. Brittany Vincent, CNN Underscored, "FIFA 20 is headed to the field on Sept. 27; you can preorder it right now," 4 Sep. 2019 Your first book focused on decorating with pattern. Monique Valeris, ELLE Decor, "The Rules of Decorating with Color, According to Rebecca Atwood," 3 Sep. 2019 Adam Siepel, a quantitative biologist at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York, and his colleagues decided to focus on such gaps in the narrative. Quanta Magazine, "Fossil DNA Reveals New Twists in Modern Human Origins," 29 Aug. 2019 Being honest with your employer can provide immense relief—for all parties involved—that helps you focus on recovery. Joel Lewin, Quartz at Work, "How to talk to your employer about your addiction," 28 Aug. 2019 Now Dhliwayo is focused on curating a series sharing wide-ranging stories of healing from black and brown folks. Ryan Walker-hartshorn, Bon Appétit, "Sinikiwe Dhliwayo Wants Everyone to Chill Out in Triangle Pose," 27 Aug. 2019 Earlier this month, a report from the organizers of the XRDC conference, polled 900 developers working in virtual, augmented, and mixed reality and found that 33 percent of them said their current projects were focused on education. Angela Watercutter, WIRED, "This 8-Minute Galactic Primer Is the Future of AR Education," 26 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'focus.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of focus

Noun

1664, in the meaning defined at sense 4a

Verb

1807, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for focus

Noun and Verb

New Latin, from Latin, hearth

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Statistics for focus

Last Updated

11 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for focus

The first known use of focus was in 1664

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More Definitions for focus

focus

noun

English Language Learners Definition of focus

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a subject that is being discussed or studied : the subject on which people's attention is focused
: a main purpose or interest
technical : a point at which rays of light, heat, or sound meet or from which they move apart or appear to move apart especially : the point at which an image is formed by a mirror, a lens, etc.

focus

verb

English Language Learners Definition of focus (Entry 2 of 2)

: to cause (something, such as attention) to be directed at something specific
: to direct your attention or effort at something specific
: to adjust (something, such as a lens or a camera) to make an image clear

focus

noun
fo·​cus | \ ˈfō-kəs How to pronounce focus (audio) \
plural foci\ ˈfō-​ˌsī \ also focuses

Kids Definition of focus

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a point at which rays (as of light, heat, or sound) meet after being reflected or bent : the point at which an image is formed
2 : the distance from a lens or mirror to a focus
3 : an adjustment that gives clear vision He turned his head almost upside down to get a more acute focus on her …— Jean Craighead George, Julie of the Wolves
4 : a center of activity or interest Fractions are the focus of this lesson.

focus

verb
focused also focussed; focusing also focussing

Kids Definition of focus (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to bring or come to a focus focus rays of light
2 : to adjust the focus of He focused his binoculars.
3 : to direct or cause to direct at Focus your attention here.

focus

noun
fo·​cus | \ ˈfō-kəs How to pronounce focus (audio) \
plural foci\ ˈfō-​ˌsī also -​ˌkī \ also focuses

Medical Definition of focus

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a point at which rays (as of light, heat, or sound) converge or from which they diverge or appear to diverge specifically : the point where the geometrical lines or their prolongations conforming to the rays diverging from or converging toward another point intersect and give rise to an image after reflection by a mirror or refraction by a lens or optical system
b : a point of convergence of a beam of particles (as electrons)
b : adjustment for distinct vision also : the area that may be seen distinctly or resolved into a clear image
3 : a localized area of disease or the chief site of a generalized disease or infection

focus

verb
focused also focussed; focusing also focussing

Medical Definition of focus (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to bring (as light rays) to a focus
2a : to adjust the focus of (as the eye or a lens)
b : to bring (as an image) into focus

intransitive verb

1 : to come to a focus
2 : to adjust one's eye or a camera to a particular range

Other Words from focus

focusable \ -​kəs-​ə-​bəl How to pronounce focusable (audio) \ adjective

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More from Merriam-Webster on focus

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with focus

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for focus

Spanish Central: Translation of focus

Nglish: Translation of focus for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of focus for Arabic Speakers

Comments on focus

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